LAHORE: Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman, chief of JUI-F and the President of the 10-party opposition coalition, met with the PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz at the Sharif residence at Jati Umra at Raiwind, Lahore.
The meeting comes after Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) announced its decision against the PDM policy of resignations from legislative assemblies. The question of the PDM’s future and direction was a major point of discussion in the meeting. The Maulana had already spoken extensively to Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari separately early this week, and it is likely that he took the PML-N leaders into confidence over the content of his communication with the PPP’s co-chairperson.
After the meeting, Maryam Nawaz and Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman talked to the media. “We had a detailed discussion over the current political situation in the country and the opposition’s role in it,” said Fazl-ur-Rehman.
While talking to the media, both leaders kept their guns towards the government, criticising the PTI’s performance rather than giving any details of the meeting or the PDM’s future. “Inflation is reaching new highs during this government’s tenure. The price of electricity unit has increased again. The people cannot bear the burden of this anymore,” he continued, “the PTI government wants to make State Bank independent, so it is not accountable to any state institution or authority. But this would make it accountable to international financial institutions, which can then dictate Pakistan’s fiscal policy.”
He further criticised the recent shift in the government’s stance over relations with India and the Kashmir issue. “It is shameful that the foreign minister says that we want new relations with India but forgets to mention Kashmir and the revocation of Article 370,” said Fazl-ur-Rehman.
Continuing the onslaught directed towards the government, he also criticised the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), calling it a puppet institution. “The recent request to revoke Maryam Nawaz’s bail has laid bare the real face of the NAB which itself has now accepted that it does not work as an anti-corruption watchdog; rather, it works to protect some people against political criticism,” Fazl said.
“PDM is united and political disagreement is part of an alliance. We will wait for the decision of the Central Executive Committee of the PPP and are open to their suggestions. PPP is a major party within the alliance, but even if a much smaller party voiced the disagreement, we would have treated it with equal concern,” he continued.
Talking to the media, Maryam Nawaz said, “The opposition alliance does not have to answer for the deplorable performance of the government. PDM is united and is working through political disagreement, but this will not help Imran Khan’s government. They will have to answer for their own negligence.”
In response to a question raised by a journalist regarding the disagreement over the Leader of Opposition in the Senate, Maryam Nawaz reiterated that the PDM had taken the decision at former primer Abbasi’s residence that the Chairman Senate would be from PPP. In contrast, the JUI-F would have its own pick for deputy chairman of the upper house. And the leader of opposition in the house would belong to PML-N. “I hope all parties can agree that this is a decision that has already been taken and on principle does not need to be revisited,” Maryam Nawaz said on the issue.
Before closing the conversation, Maryam reiterated that the PML-N and JUI-F are capable enough to lead public demonstrations and agitations on their own; however, it would be better if all opposition parties can unite for the cause of the public.
The PML-N vice president also commented that media reports of disagreements between her and her cousin Hamza Shahbaz were baseless. The media needs to be more responsible in their reporting.